OSR Are There Any OSR (or OSR-adjacent) Games With Modern Sensibilities?


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Ondath

Hero
Looking at reviews of this, this seems to be exactly what I'm looking for! I really like the Ancestry & Heritage system, the classes seem to get the power level I want at levels 10+, and while I dislike the lack of a unified mechanic (saves and attacks are roll over — and even there the bonuses are all fiddly —, ability checks are roll under), I think I can easily hack it so that there's a somewhat unified mechanic with a similar mathematical progression as the current rules.

This is fantastic! Thank you! Now I'll have to convince my current 5E group to give this a try...
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've looked at the DCC quickstart rules as @Ath-kethin has suggested, and I think there is a lot that I like. The classes do seem to be balanced around each other and I really like how they implemented martial manoeuvres and wizard spells in a similar "effect die varies interesting results". If I can hack a way to make races separate from classes, this could be the way to go.

One question I have on mechanical balance (I know that's not really a thing, but as much as it exists) across OSR games: Would it be reasonable to port some character options from one OSR game to another, since they're mostly based on a similar ruleset? I'm thinking maybe I can use the OSE Advanced class and race options within a DCC framework to add some options DCC doesn't have (Druids, races like Orcs etc.).
1. You don't need to hunt far to decouple race and class in DCC if that's your thing; I even wrote up a quick and dirty way to do it if you want. You can grab the PDF here: GLOSS #1: DCC Demihuman Classes in a Sword & Sorcery Campaign and there's a preview of the full document available on that page. You can also find the document on Itch.io, and the rules (sans artwork) on my website, MGSHP.com.

2. It's super easy to integrate variant classes into DCC, since they're pretty much all just riffs on a theme. For example, one of the 8yos in my regular group wanted to play a Tabaxi, and after some discussion we just reskinned the Halfling and removed the "small" bit. Mechanically, it worked. Another player really loved the idea of an elf ranger, which took a little more work but was still pretty easy; I just took the elf and had it cast cleric spells instead of wizard spells. I posted the character sheets I made for both of those on the DCC RPG Rocks! Facebook page I mentioned before, and they're still there in the Media section (though it will take a little bit of scrolling to get to them).

3. For monsters, DCC tends to go weird or go home. It's super easy to take just about any monster from just about any OSR (or for that matter TSR-era D&D) product and use it unchanged. I get a LOT out of the Swords & Wizardry Monstrosities book, myself. But most modules have completely unique monsters in them (though in truth those monsters are often statistically identical to others - one benefit of a very simple setup). That said, DCC's take on Dragons and Giants, both in the core rulebook, is pretty cool, and an early 3rd party supplement does similar things with a handful of other creatures. The key is unpredictability and the idea that players should never know exactly what they're going to face.
 
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Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Oh, and no matter which system you end up using, be prepared to houserule and kitbash the hell out of it to make it into what you want to run. :)
+1,000,000,000. The rules are there to have your way with. There are tons of resources to adapt and intermix if you want, or just make stuff up yourself. But you can make a game into anything you want, often much more easily than you'd think.

And another great thing about the OSR crowd/approach/community is that virtually nobody will give you any guff about it.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
+1,000,000,000. The rules are there to have your way with. There are tons of resources to adapt and intermix if you want, or just make stuff up yourself. But you can make a game into anything you want, often much more easily than you'd think.

And another great thing about the OSR crowd/approach/community is that virtually nobody will give you any guff about it.
Absolutely. All of this. So many pointless and dumb arguments avoided by simply acknowledging that the rules aren't perfect, they're only guidelines, and that if they don't work the way we want they get changed. So many headaches gone with that one bit of "everybody just be cool" attitude.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The short form of this, and applicable to the old-school style in general I think, is that the primary story being told (in whatever manner) is that of the party as a whole rather than that of any individual character(s).
What I think is that games like 3rd Edition or Pathfinder 2 completely fail to address the issue.

Yes, it's fun to build a character. But no, it's not fun when that becomes so central the group forgets that real heroism needs to be earned, not given.

Even 5E is not flawless here, blithely handing out abilities to player characters like candy with one hand, and providing monsters and NPCs that simply cannot handle those abilities with the other.

The net effect far too easily becomes that of a game where, if a player character is permanently stopped (and you all know that death is absolutely not that) from proceeding on his zero to hero journey (at least once off the lowest levels), this is considered something deeply wrong or aberrant.

But if you basically can't fail, how heroic are you?

The point is, that only if you truly can fail, will your heroism be truly earned.

---

Still, a game that allows a lot of meaningful customization (like 3E/PF1 in particular) is fun.

But how do you marry this out-of-game planning fun with the excitement of real danger in the game?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What I think is that games like 3rd Edition or Pathfinder 2 completely fail to address the issue.

Yes, it's fun to build a character. But no, it's not fun when that becomes so central the group forgets that real heroism needs to be earned, not given.

Even 5E is not flawless here, blithely handing out abilities to player characters like candy with one hand, and providing monsters and NPCs that simply cannot handle those abilities with the other.

The net effect far too easily becomes that of a game where, if a player character is permanently stopped (and you all know that death is absolutely not that) from proceeding on his zero to hero journey (at least once off the lowest levels), this is considered something deeply wrong or aberrant.

But if you basically can't fail, how heroic are you?

The point is, that only if you truly can fail, will your heroism be truly earned.
Hear, hear! :)
Still, a game that allows a lot of meaningful customization (like 3E/PF1 in particular) is fun.
For some. For others, like me, it can quickly become a pain in the arse. I'd far rather just choose a class and species and call it done, then have those things just give me whatever abilities they're going to give me at whatever levels they appear. And fewer of them. My biggest problem when plang 3e was constantly forgetting all the feats and abilities my characters had, including the supposedly "simple" characters.

Char-gen is way faster this way too. :)
But how do you marry this out-of-game planning fun with the excitement of real danger in the game?
There's a few options here but all risk turning the overall power levels up even more, which is probably not the intent.

1. Go 3e, at least to a point, and have NPCs and monsters use the same rules as PCs in their construction. This alone tends to beef up the foes a bit.
2. Make it such that the planning always leads to a single focus, such that a PC becomes really really good at one thing but only one thing. Prerequisite trees are good for this. Yeah this means they often become one-trick ponies, which isn't great; but the alternative is that you end up with all the characters more or less being good at everything, which both discourages teamwork as there's less interdependence and raises the overall power level of the party as a whole.
3. Dial the opposition up to eleven. If using any sort of CR or EL system, put a multiplier on it - say, x 1.5 - and use that instead when designing your adventures, encounters, etc. So if the system wants you to throw a CR 4 encounter at 'em, use a [4 x 1.5 =] CR 6 one instead.

Another option that kinda goes the other direction is to somehow de-power the abilities across the board, such that while there's still lots of choices those choices don't represent anything all that powerful in play.
 


You know, it’s just a piddling complaint of mine, but why do publishers have to have such dreary names? “Death Crave Games”, or “Awesome Desiccated Bodies Publishing”.

It’s be nice to buy something from “Happy Fun Imagination Hobbies, Inc.” every now and then.
Probably trying to capture that "terrified and bleeding out in a dark, damp cave surrounded by blind albino frogs" motif that the OSR loves. :D
 

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